Project Garage

Part three: The build be­gins.

Car Mechanics (UK) - - Contents -

Con­crete takes sev­eral weeks to dry fully but, for the pur­poses of con­struct­ing a garage, a week is usu­ally suf­fi­cient be­fore at­tempt­ing to build on a new base.

On Oc­to­ber 19, 2017, a large flatbed truck ar­rived that was laden with con­crete pan­els, lots of cor­ru­gated roof­ing sheets and a cou­ple of doors. A 7ft up-and-over door was laid out on the front lawn, but af­ter a scrap metal mer­chant po­litely en­quired as to whether he could take it away, it was moved else­where.

A con­crete plinth marked the perime­ter of the garage walls and helped to show why the garage man­u­fac­turer had stip­u­lated the con­crete base needed to have an ex­cess of six inches all round. With this plinth in po­si­tion, it was clear the in­spec­tion pit was slightly off­set, but this is an ad­van­tage for pho­tog­ra­phy. It meant that, if a ve­hi­cle was re­versed in and po­si­tioned over the pit, there would be a lit­tle more space on the near­side when work­ing on the brakes, for ex­am­ple. This would also make it eas­ier to ma­noeu­vre a cam­era and tri­pod be­tween the ve­hi­cle and the wall of the garage.

Walled in

The 2ft-wide con­crete pan­els that form the walls of the garage are quite heavy at around 50 ki­los each. They’re straight­for­ward to trans­port us­ing a sack trol­ley, but can be awk­ward to ma­noeu­vre. The three men that were build­ing the garage made short work of mov­ing them into po­si­tion and at­tach­ing them. Over half the pan­els were in po­si­tion a mere 45 min­utes af­ter the first two cor­ner pan­els were bolted to­gether.

A cor­ru­gated pent roof had been or­dered, which en­abled the over­all height of the garage to re­main within the 2.5-me­tre limit, es­pe­cially with the ex­tra-tall up-and-over door. The roof is a lit­tle lower at the back of the garage, al­low­ing rain­wa­ter to drain off into gut­ter­ing and a wa­ter butt. All of the roof pan­els are sup­ported on a steel frame­work that’s se­cured to the tops of the con­crete walls. Rais­ing the roof at the front of the garage re­quires a wood frame­work to be con­structed and fit­ted, which needs to be an­gled to achieve the cor­rect height at the front. The wood frame­work was cov­ered and pro­tected with plas­tic fas­cia boards, which were trimmed us­ing an an­gle grinder af­ter they had been fit­ted.

The con­struc­tion of the garage was com­pleted in less than four hours, not helped by the near-con­stant rain.

The white stuff

Af­ter a thor­ough sweep-out of the garage, it was time to start painting in­side. Adopt­ing a top-down ap­proach, the walls were first on the list. A 10-litre tub of bright white masonry paint was bought for £38, along with a new paint roller. Pretty soon, I was pep­pered in white from head to toe. The first coat was quickly soaked up and looked patchy. The sec­ond coat made a dif­fer­ence and al­lowed what­ever nat­u­ral light that en­tered through the four clear roof pan­els to bounce around in­side. The garage was al­ready look­ing much brighter, even be­fore the electrics and LED light­ing were fit­ted.

While painting the walls, the builder who had con­structed the base and in­spec­tion pit vis­ited and brought along sev­eral pre-cut lengths of wood. He se­cured wooden feet to each length to help raise them up, then laid them down over the in­spec­tion pit. His cal­cu­la­tions were ac­cu­rate and there were enough boards sit­ting at the cor­rect height to be flush with the sur­round­ing floor.

Into the grey

With the new floor­boards in­stalled over the in­spec­tion pit, it was now much eas­ier to paint the floor. The builder had kindly do­nated a tin of grey floor paint that had hardly been used. The first coat was thinned out a lit­tle with white spirit. Start­ing at the very back of the garage, the paint was rollered on and I painted my­self out. Al­low­ing suf­fi­cient time for the first coat to al­most dry, a sec­ond coat with­out any white spirit was ap­plied and seemed to look bet­ter. The garage door was then closed and locked, with strict in­struc­tions to keep off the floor for a week, although I man­aged to jump across it and into the in­spec­tion pit so I could paint the walls and floor.

Un­for­tu­nately, the painted floor wasn’t as suc­cess­ful as I’d hoped it would be. Maybe the paint had gone off or got some mois­ture in it, but it has not been as hard-wear­ing as I’d ex­pected. I’ll wait for the weather to im­prove be­fore at­tempt­ing an­other coat or two.

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